Nearly 1,200 health care leaders from rural hospitals, health systems and health clinics, as well as rural associations and community health organizations, will convene Feb. 19–22 in San Antonio for the AHA Rural Health Care Leadership Conference.

Participants will examine the most significant operational, financial and environmental challenges that rural hospitals face and discuss innovative approaches to transform care delivery and business practices.

The sessions, plenary presentations and preconference workshops at this year’s conference are top-notch. In addition, AHA leaders will share updates on the political, legislative and regulatory landscape.

Here’s a sample of the topics that executives, clinicians, trustees, public health officials and community leaders across the country will address:

  • Navigating financial challenges, workforce shortages and imminent external threats.
  • Developing creative solutions — including digital solutions — to improve patient outcomes and increase access to care.
  • Improving and expanding access to behavioral health services, including mental illness and substance use disorders.
  • Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of hospital affiliations.
  • Building, maintaining and improving an effective workplace violence prevention program.
  • Defending against cyberthreats.
  • Becoming an effective advocate for rural hospitals and health systems.

I look forward to spending time with rural hospital and health system leaders at this year’s conference. I’ll be joining AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack and AHA Chair-elect Joanne Conroy, M.D., president and CEO of Dartmouth Health in Lebanon, N.H., to discuss these and other issues that affect hospitals and health systems.

We know that strengthening our rural hospitals is critical to the overall health of our nation’s health care delivery system. Location, size, workforce, payment and access to capital continue to challenge rural hospitals and the communities we serve. We must tackle these issues together to ensure all residents of rural communities have access to high-quality, affordable care.

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